Verifiable Credentials: Future perfect?
For people looking to skip all the drama and see how VCs work, please jump here. Assuming you already know how I got past Denial, Anger, Bargaining & Depression, let's move on to...
Acceptance: Ok fine, what happens now?
You go back to browsing the net. And hope that VCs become useful so that all you've learnt now is relevant.
But how useful can VCs be? In theory, very. The internet's pretty much the wild west at the moment. Spreading misinformation is a piece of cake. Thankfully I found this amazing solution!
VCs offer the promise to make the (digital) world a better place (just like every ride hailing and grocery delivery company). Quoting this article from Forbes:
Verifiable credentials could make it easy to spot bots, unmask trolls and trace the origins of claims...When consumers stop worrying about theft and deception, they’ll be more willing to participate in online ecosystems...When trust is rebuilt, I believe the internet can become a place of creativity instead of caution.
If you're paranoid about privacy, VCs could be your best friends. They enable selective disclosure of information, with this concept called Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP). Which's a total misnomer btw - there's definitely >0 knowledge involved there.
Not a lot of people know what VCs are, including most who use them. Quoting the same article:
"...the verifiable credential space is very young. The W3C just came out with standards for verifiable credentials in the past year or so...So, a barrier to entry for companies in this space, including my own, will be consumer education on how to implement verifiable credentials."
Then again there are many (including my employers) who're betting big on VCs.
Personally I believe VCs are here to stay, but the idea will probably undergo a lot of evolution. As we've seen with COVID vaccine certificates, a lot of VC features are optional and might not be harnessed at scale, at least not immediately. But I think the magic'll happen once VCs are linked to biometrics, which might not be too far off!
In case you didn't notice, I have a vested interest in wanting VCs to work. But so should you - they might just make our lives easier!